The setting up of Agricultural Machinery Facilitation Centres
One of the major reasons for increased cost of cultivation and low productivity has been identified as lack/limited access to farm machineries by the small holder farmers. Currently, farmers depend on private players or extension services for these machineries.
However, access to these machineries from these sources is very challenging for most farmers given their size of land holding (small and marginal), distance and affordability. The need for having these machineries at a local level at an affordable cost is increasingly being felt by the farmers and have been represented by the sustainable agriculture groups during their regular meetings. Considering these requests, the farmers had explored various opportunities to improve access to farm machineries that has the potential to reduce cost of cultivation, increase productivity and improve quality of the produce.
It is worth noting here that farm mechanization helps in increasing productivity by about 30% besides enabling the farmers to raise a second crop or multi-crop making the agriculture attractive and a way of life by becoming commercial instead of subsistence. Towards this, with the support of DFID grant CIKS established AMFCs in selected panchayats, where paddy is cultivated predominantly. A set of agricultural equipment were purchased with 50% contribution from DFID and the remaining 50% either through government subsidy or loan and farmers’ contribution.
These centres are being managed by Panchayat Agriculture Development Committee (PADC) through Village Based Agriculture Business Development Service Providers (VABDSPs) in their respective panchayats. These machineries are provided to farmers at an affordable cost and a user fee is collected by the centre so that it could be used for maintenance and purchase of additional equipment as necessary. This initiative helps in sustainable access to necessary equipment and contributes to reduce cost of cultivation, increased productivity and improved quality of produce.